Friday, August 31, 2012


My husband is a genius.  (And, for the record, he never reads this blog, so this is spoken freely and truly.)

A little back story.  It will get a little personal but it will end with design, I promise.  With this amazing wallpaper, to be specific.

here, on Designsponge

here, House to Home

I'll get to it.

I have always been whatever weight I happened to be.  Meaning, I have never really dieted or "tried" one way or the other.  I have been overweight (when I went to school in Switzerland and they fed us enormous heaping piles of delicious pasta, for example), I have been on the thinner side (after baby number one, breatfeeding like crazy and forgetting to feed myself), but mostly I have been sort of average.  I have never been skinny.  I have generally been okay with where I'm at.

Lately, though, I have found myself in very bad habits.  Too much wine, not enough water.  Dessert on a regular basis.  Finishing my kids plates so as not to waste food.  If I'm being honest, I have been on a downward slope for three years, since I stopped breastfeeding baby number 2 and the weight started to return.  I was aware all along, watching from the corner of my eye as if it was someone else.  Wondering when I would feel compelled to make a change.  For over a year, I haven't let my husband cancel our membership at the Y because I was planning to start going--tomorrow.

And then, all of a sudden, I'm ready.  Maybe it is the break of a vacation,which makes it easier to really assess your habits, and offers the opportunity to come home fresh and break them.  Maybe it is my looming 20 year high school reunion (and the fact that I was as skinny as I've ever been at the 15 year event.)  Maybe it has to do with my girls getting older and wanting to model better behavior.  (The jokes about Diet Coke being my favorite drink have got to end.)

I am using an app (my first!  I know, I'm old) called my fitness pal, which my husband researched and installed on my phone, and it is an amazing tool to set goals and to see the relationship between calories, exercise, and weight loss.  Knowing is powerful.

But here is the genius of my husband:  He is really into making deals and creating incentive programs. For example, our 6 year old gets a candy dinner--a huge deal in our largely candy-free home--when she quits sucking her thumb.  Me?  Well, for every one minute of jump rope, I earn $1 towards a home project, and--here's the kicker--it can be whatever I want, with no approval from and no veto power for him.  I immediately bought a jump rope at our neighbor's garage sale and thought long and hard about what I would like to earn.

And, you guessed it, I'm pretty settled on wallpaper for the first floor powder room, and after some consideration, I'm pretty set on Grove Garden from Osborne and Little in the more unusual (and elegant and subdued) mocha color way.  Bottom, below.

One more thing, though:  Jump rope is HARD.  Let's just say I only earned $2 today.  It's embarrassing.  Whatever.  My husband is a hard ass and partial minutes don't count.  But you know what?  I would have quit on day one without the promise of freedom to make a frivolous decorating decision.  And tomorrow, I will earn $3, and we will go form there.  (To be clear, jump rope is not the only exercise in my new routine, it's just the only one that earns me home dollars.)

Tell me: would this incentive work for you?  What do you need help conquering?  What do you have your eye on that you might work towards getting?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I'm back, and guest posting

We are back from the lake!  The rest of you may have figured this out already, but vacations rule.  I had forgotten!  I came back feeling refreshed and ready to do more with my business and my blog (and my life), and I am really excited to dig in....Once my four year old starts school next week, that is.

For today, you can find me over at Meet Me in Philadelphia.  Ashley is off on the vacation of a lifetime, and a couple of her blogger buds are filling in, talking about fall inspiration.  I did a double product round up in neutrals and brights.  The product?  Here's a hint.

via Lonny.

Go see me there today, then come on back here tomorrow.  I will resume our regularly scheduled programming.

Small Maasures: the easiest one of all

via Elle Decor. Design Juan Carlos Arcila-Duque, photo William Waldron.

This one takes the cake. Go do it right now. Ready?
Do you have a pair of pillows in a directional print? Turn one on its side. Seriously. Instant energy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Small measures: make a pile

The easiest peasiest way to break in a living room: have fireplace, will pile wood. Natural, organic, devil may care. The perfect lived in approach. (and no, now your wood does NOT have to be prettier.)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Small Measures: high on art

Source: via Heather on Pinterest

Want to warm up a nook? Install a picture rail high up, like moldng. Lean your favorite collections, photographs, or art.  Done!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Small Measures: Rainbow Connection

Floating shelves?  Why not go rainbow striped.  Or ombre.  Point is: who said they all need to be one color?  Have at it.  A matching band on your lights is just bonus points.  Now you're showing off.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Small Measures: the Midas touch

Spotted on Bijou and Boheme.

See the writing on the wall. Metallic paint plus small hands and a brush to splatter: personal wall covering. Not for the faint of heart (But hey: you can always re-paint.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Small Measures: point of entry

Spotted on A Delightful Design.

Go bold: choose a saturated and unexpected hue for your front door. Hell, choose a random interior door, too.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Small Measures: the simplest canopies

From the Ballard Design show house, spotted on From the Right Bank

Instant canopies: mount a curtain rod or dowel above the bed, tie on a fabulous piece of fabric, repeat (it is especially charming with two twin beds). Love it!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Small Measures: monster truck

here (my new favorite) via here, from the "living with kids" series--hooray for that!

Perfect wall treatment for small people (well, grown ups too): taped up collage on a theme.  These truck and bus shots are perfectly graphic and colorful, and the whole doesn't get too busy.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Small Measures Marathon


I am going on vacation.  A real one.  With my best girlfriends from New York.  Who I have not seen in 1 and 3 years.  Add in three husbands and 6 kids and a beautiful lake and I can't wait!

I have not gone on vacation in 5 years.  A weekend here and there, sure, but a real vacation?  Nope.  FIVE YEARS.  Now, I am sure there are too many families who never get a vacation, but when you have had the amount of upheaval and change in your world as we have over the past five years, there comes a point when a break is very much what you need.  To say I am looking forward to it would be an understatement.

While I am away?  Doing my best not to work.  At all.  But I did pre-schedule 8 days of small measures on the blog, so be sure to pop in.  Each day one photo, 25 words or less, sharing an inspiring idea for a DIY project.

Since this is usually a Saturday series, heck, I'll give you one today, too!

photo Don Duchars.  Spotted here via here.

Add a three inch stripe (any color!) just above the baseboard.  Instant drama!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

People are SO creative!!

I rarely do what amounts to a straight-up repost, but I saw this first group of finalists in the Design Sponge Painter's Tape DIY contest, and was just do charmed--and impressed--by people's creativity.

Check it out here, and vote for your favorite!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Vintage Wallpaper

Did you know that there are 52 PAGES of vintage wallpaper on Etsy?

True story.

I often lust after the papers at secondhand rose, but right now I'm working with a client with a couple of DIYs in mind, including sprucing up a seen-better-days Danish credenza with a little wallpaper, so I need fun, inexpensive paper in small quantities.  Etsy is not letting me down.

In browsing, I was struck by how modern some of these look today, in that old "everything old is new again way."  Observe:

Vintage 1960s Wallpaper-Whimsical Pink Poppies-by the yard




vintage wallpaper - sunny floral with dots - per half yard


Orla Kiely, here


1970's Vintage Wallpaper Retro Solid Vinyl swirls

Jewel Of Spring
Suzy Hoodless for Osborne and Little




Suzy Hoodless for Osborne and Little

Vintage 1970s Wallpaper- LIttle Flowers in Yellow by Schumacher- sold by the yard
It's Shumacher!  Here.



Maybe those last two should be switched, come to think of it.

This one feels fairly "now":

1970's Vintage Wallpaper vinyl pink brown black geometric fabric backed wallpaper

I though Cole and Sons was making something similar, but if they are I can't find it.

And I really, really love this.  It's not current (most of the above are vintage 60s or 70s; this one hails from the 40s), but it is so very sweet.

1930's Vintage Wallpaper mint green and candy pink bubbles

Now, certainly none of these are exact.  But there is a certain spirit carrying forward, wouldn't you say?

Would you ever hang a vintage paper?  Does it feel fresh to you, or do you think these patterns are showing their age?

Now if only I could find the paper from the nursery in our house in the 70s.  Two walls read "rainbow" over and over in rainbow colored bubble letters, running in stripes on the diagonal.  (I'll give you a minute to picture that.)  The other two walls had little houses with silhouetted trees around them, and a rainbow over each and every one.

So, last question: any spectacularly dated wallpapers in your youth?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Small Measures

Applied-ribbon architecture. Just takes a lot of three inexpensive things: Hot glue, ribbon, and patience.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fabulous progress on a traditional home

For about a year now I have been working long-distance on a fabulous home in New Jersey.  I love formal traditional style, but most of the homes I have lived in are decidedly more casual, so it has been really fun to pull out the stops with florals, damasks, silks, and trims.  My client has a great eye and sense of what she wants, and this has been one fun and easy collaboration.

She recently sent some update photos, and I thought I would share with you.

Fantastic floral wallpaper in an upstairs bath:

Grasscloth in the study:

Another excellent print (on linen) on the kitchen barstools.  Love the giant nailhead.

Great brass pendants over the island and velvet-trimmed raw silk roman shades

Vintage dining chairs recovered in silver faux-leather (it's hard to see in this picture, but the chairs have a silver-leaf detail outlining all those pretty curves).

We're thinking about this paper for the powder room:


Those fish are like 18" tall!

Next up: recovering a lot of old regency and biedermeier furniture.  Can't wait!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

We have a winner

The Shabby Apple gift card winner is comment 33

April G!

My Photo

April, send me an email with your street address heather{at}

Thanks for playing!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Does redecorating mean starting over?

These days, I tend to buy new clothes in bursts, not one piece at a time.  (This usually happens when all my usual tops have holes in them.  Sad but true.)  When I come home with a bag full of goodies, I immediately play around with the existing items in my closet to create new looks.  Why?  Well, partly because wearing new new new from head to toe makes me feel false, somehow.  Inauthentic.

A similar principal applies in decorating.  While I imagine some decorators love a blank slate, I find it difficult to start completely from scratch.  The things you have picked up along the way are YOU, and your home should tell the story of your life.

Flipping through the new Elle Decor, I saw this ad.  To be honest, I have no idea if it is meant to be tongue in cheek, or what, but it struck me because I couldn't disagree more.  Redecorating does not mean getting rid of everything.

Redecorating means re-considering your favorite things, re-mixing them, and pairing them with some new purchases to create a whole new look.

I've been doing this in my house, rediscovering things I love that have been, inexplicably, sitting in the basement.  While it is fun to try on new trends, I know that the things I bought a decade ago that still look great to my eye are the things I truly love.

Mine include mid-century chinoiserie, rattan, embroidered textiles, block prints, metallics, text art, moroccan anything (but especially lanters), deco influences, and bamboo plant stands, among others.

What about you: what does your "old stuff" say about your taste?

P.S.  Don't forget to enter the Shabby Apple gift card giveaway.  Go here and follow the instructions.  You have until midnight tonight to enter.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Small measures

At first, I will admit, I wasn't on board with the lantern cluster. But Lisa Sherry made me reconsider (second from top) with her elegant, neutral, and asymmetrical concoction. And for a kids room? Go over the top, with color, shape, and even birds.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Swan Corbels and a fireplace makeover

Hi friends.  Did you enter to win the $50 gift card from Shabby Apple?  Click on the original giveaway post here and scrolllllll down for directions.

I'm working on a fireplace re-design for a new client, with a tile facade that is an updated take on mission style.  Here's the vintage inspiration:

Source: via Heather on Pinterest

We will do square tiles, possibly offset, that runs along the face and the hearth.  We are creating built-in shelves around the fireplace, but because the existing fireplace is set into the wall fairly flush, the shelves will essentially create a recessed fireplace.  Here's what we want to avoid:

Source: via Heather on Pinterest

The fireplace just gets lost, and the mantel feels disconnected from the white built ins.

Instead, we will do shelves that are 12" deep, and for balance, we will do a mantel at the same depth, supported by simple decorative wood corbels.  I found this, which is almost exactly what I was picturing:

(except we are not working with such high ceilings, so no cabinet or arch at the top).  The tile we're using even looks similar.  So lovely, right?

Like so many other design elements, there are a million choices for corbels out there.  These things also get expensive, fast.  Because we want something simple, I am trying to keep it budget friendly, with a narrow bracket that will extend 2/3 of the way out the mantel.  Something like this:

$31 a piece, here.  Truth be told, I would like something a little fatter, but then the price leaps into the hundreds--for each corbel, and I think I need 5.  No dice.

While I was poking around the interwebs, I came across plenty of gorgeous specimens with all kinds of carving.  With all the animalia out there these days, I thought you guys would like to see this one:


Kinda makes me think of this table from Serena and Lily

Or these elephant console tables

Source: via Gwynne on Pinterest

Or the rams head coffee tables that seem to be popping up all over.

Have I ever mentioned that my mom had a swan-base coffee table with glass top in the late 80s? She did. And oh, did I love it.

If you want more fireplace reference, check out my pins here and here.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mixing patterns like a pro

There have been some great tutorials around blogland recently, sharing some different tips and approaches for mixing patterns.

Nicole Balch mixes 27 patterns to perfection on Making it Lovely

Dina has a simple equation over at Honey + Fitz

Elle Decor mined their archive for great examples and asked top designers for their tricks.  Click here for the article and slide show.


Real Simple has a slide show, too, here.

Zigzag and geometric patterned room

But my very favorite tutorial is the video that Emily Henderson made and posted over on her blog.  She is adorable, and her information is good, easy to follow, and totally doable at home.

Watch and learn!

Oh, and I have a pinterest board called "pattern mix."  Check it out here.  If you are so inclined, you can follow all my boards here.

Last but certainly not least, don't forget the Shabby Apple giveaway.  Go to the original post here and follow the instructions at the bottom to be entered to win.



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